A few years back I stumbled across an essay titled "Jumping Off the Cliff, Looking for Water on the Way Down". It was an essay about writing being an act of faith, writing despite obstacles like self-doubt and cancer. That essay inspired me then and continues to inspire me today. That essay introduced me to author Jay Lake, a talented and established writer in the science fiction and fantasy realm, and led me to hunt down his books.
In 2011, I participated in a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's Chat with Jay Lake on twitter. For those of you who are totally into Romance, that's like a tete-a-tete with Nora Roberts for me. Thank you to author Bryan Thomas Schmidt for arranging it. Anyhoo, I got to ask questions, listen to other questions and hear Jay's answers. Again, I came away inspired.
(Originally posted in 2011 on Romance Magicians, but the wisdom is timeless): Being writers, I'm sure all of us can learn from another writer's wisdom, no matter what the genre. So, with Jay and Bryan's permission, I'm going to share some of my favorite quotes from the chat. Blog readers, I present you Jay Lake :
"I can gin up a story from a very small seed. It's one of the pleasures of the craft for me."
"Publishing is meritocracy, but it is not a just meritocracy"..."Which is to say being good is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success."
"Write more" just means whatever you're doing, do more of it. Plus I'm a big fan of putting down the tv and the video games...Nothing wrong with entertainment, but things that scratch your plot bump will keep you from writing...The question is: do you want to be a producer or a consumer?
"Nobody is born a literary genius...You would expect to practice a martial art or a new instrument or a foreign language. Why wouldn't you practice writing?"
"And write new stuff. Don't spend years laboring over your Great Work. Trust me, it's not that great. Go write another one."
Regarding reading to write: "Absolutely. It's called filling the well. Imagine a chef who never ate anyone else's cooking. But time is an issue."
"Writing has really interfered with my reading career."
"I talk openly about the cancer because so many people don't. I get more fan letters off my cancer blogging than off my fiction."
"Re outlines, for short fiction, never. I 'follow the headlights' For novels, always. But the process changes every time."
RE: breaking in:
"I wrote and submitted regularly from 1990 to 2001 before making my first sale."
"Probably about 800,000 words of first draft before I broke in."
"At this point, I've probably written close to 3,000,000 words of first draft. Sold over 2,000,000 of those words."
"DId I ever want to quit? Lots of times. But I kept going. Because, well, this is what I wanted."
About Submitting and Rejections:
"And yes, I still get rejected all the time. More often than I get accepted, I think."
"Submitting fiction is kind of like dating. It helps to be cheerful and bullet-resistant."
Rest in peace Jay, and thank you.